Anderson Silva may be stalling, but the pound-for-pound king fears no man, not even Chris Weidman.
For months, Weidman has pleaded his case for a UFC title shot, but every pitch has been swatted down by Silva's camp.
Ed Soares, Silva's manager, crushed Weidman's hopes in an interview with CageFanatic.com:
I think Chris Weidman, not to take anything away from who he is as a fighter, I think he's a phenomenal fighter but I think I would like to see Anderson fight someone that's a little bit more recognized.
I mean I don't think Anderson has anything to gain from that fight other than beating a super tough, unknown guy. He's a phenomenal talent and no disrespect to his fighting abilities, but we would like to fight somebody with a little more recognition and maybe Weidman is maybe a fight or two away.
In a sense, Silva has become a prize fighter.
After nearly seven years of dominance, his only interest lies in blockbuster fights, and Weidman has yet to develop a wide enough fanbase to be considered a marquee name.
It's ludicrous to make sense of the situation. Every shred of common sense points to Weidman as the legitimate and most deserving contender. He boasts an undefeated professional record, with his last two wins coming over top-10 middleweight opposition.
On paper, he even poses more problems stylistically than Silva has ever seen in a middleweight matchup. Yet the bout isn't taking place based off the mere premise of a popularity contest.
Weidman is certainly being dealt a bad hand in this entire ordeal, but he needs only a glance at UFC welterweight contender Johny Hendricks' situation to see that he's not alone.
Silva's reluctance to accept a fight with Weidman should be looked at as a compliment. It's rare to hear Soares sing another fighter's praises. Weidman is truly an exceptional talent, and it doesn't take an expert to notice his unique abilities.
Still, Soares' argument that Silva has nothing to gain from facing Weidman is rock solid. A loss of any kind is devastating, but how would a loss to a relatively unknown contender like Weidman play over in the public? What about a win?
The risks far outweigh the reward for Silva. A couple of more wins over quality opposition should really help Weidman gain ground in the public eye and finally earn that ever-elusive title shot. It has been proven that Silva always answers, if you knock on his door long enough.
Just ask Chael Sonnen.
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